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Bridget Riley (B. 1931)
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Bridget Riley (B. 1931)\nChant 2 \nsigned, titled and dated ‘CHANT 2 RILEY 1967’ (on the reverse);\nsigned and dated ‘Riley '67’ (on the overlap)\nemulsion on linen\n91 x 90.3/4in. (231.5 x 231cm.)\nPainted in 1967
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notes

‘Chant 2 was shown at the Venice Biennale in 1968 together with Late Morning, the other great painting that confirmed Riley’s breakthrough into pure colour’ (R. Kudielka, ‘Building Sensations: The Early Work of Bridget Riley’, in Bridget Riley: Paintings from the 1960s and 70s, exh. cat., London, Serpentine Gallery, 1999, p. 30).

'When this ingeniously simple painting was shown at the Venice Biennale in 1968 it caused quite a stir because the composition seems to mysteriously open out in the centre to convey the sensation of an unplumbable depth radiating an intense, subtly coloured light. No colour theory lies behind this, simply the basic observation that colours bordering on white can do one of two things: either directly bleed and fuse or induce contrasting colours. The blue-red-blue band flickers with yellow-orange at its edges. When put to work with a precise sense of scale and rhythm, these two opposing tendencies of colour energy avail a surprising wealth of pictorial possibilities’ - Robert Kudielka describing Chant 2 at the Venice Biennale’ (R. Kudielka, ‘Essays and interviews 1972–2003’, Robert Kudielka on Bridget Riley, London 2005, pp. 114–117).

‘I had to give visual sensation more rein – my black-and-white paintings had been about states of being, states of composure and disturbance, but when I introduced colour in 1967 this began to change. Colour inevitably leads you to the world outside... in the late 1960s I was beginning to find my way with a whole host of sensations to do with colour’ (B. Riley, quoted in Bridget Riley, exh. cat., London, Tate Britain, 2003, p. 19).

Debuted at the 34th Venice Biennale of 1968, Chant 2 is one of only three paintings which announced Bridget Riley’s celebrated foray into colour, for which she was awarded the prestigious International Painting prize, making her the first woman and first Briton to win the prestigious accolade. Situated alongside to other ground-breaking colour works Late Morning, now housed in the permanent collection of Tate, London, and Cataract 3, in the British Council Collection, Chant 2 is among the first celebrated works that mark the artist’s departure from the binary confines of monochromatic black and white. While Cataract 3 juxtaposed stripes of colour against black and white, Chant 2 marks the first instance that Riley fully embraced a palette of pure colour. Standing over two metres, the chromatic spectacle completely absorbs the viewer. Transforming the space around it, the experience of encountering Chant 2 changes with the distance between the viewer and the painting. Describing Chant 2 at the Venice Biennale, Robert Kudielka recalled, 'when this ingeniously simple painting was shown at the Venice Biennale in 1968 it caused quite a stir because the composition seems to mysteriously open out in the centre to convey the sensation of an unplumbable depth radiating an intense, subtly coloured light. No colour theory lies behind this, simply the basic observation that colours bordering on white can do one of two things: either directly bleed and fuse or induce contrasting colours. The blue-red-blue band flickers with yellow-orange at its edges. When put to work with a precise sense of scale and rhythm, these two opposing tendencies of colour energy avail a surprising wealth of pictorial possibilities’ (R. Kudielka, ‘Essays and interviews 1972–2003’, Robert Kudielka on Bridget Riley, London 2005, pp. 114–117). Testament to its significance, Chant 2 has been included in several major retrospectives of Riley’s work including Tate Britain, London and Serpentine Gallery, London.

Playing out these chromatic investigations on a monumental scale transforms the space around it. Spanning over two metres, the spectator is absorbed into a total sensory experience. The ever changing surface constantly fluctuates with the viewer as the move around the canvas. Enticed along the rhythmic pushpull of the colour and line, the eye is carried across the multi-focal space, never settling as the lines pulse and swell. The monumental scale is determined by the graphic logic of Riley’s patterns – their dimensions determined specifically to fit the formal organization of the pattern. The expansive canvas allowed the graphic elements to play out. Indeed speaking of the works created between 1967 and 1973, Riley attested that scale is as fundamental as colour: 'In the same way that I had to sacrifice distinctive forms in order to release the energy of colour-light, it was necessary to increase the scale of the event in order to prevent focused looking’ (B. Riley, quoted in R. Kudielka, ‘Essays and interviews 1972–2003’, Robert Kudielka on Bridget Riley, London 2005, p. 188). The viewer’s relationship to the canvas is imperative to the understanding, with 'virtual space now appears to advance from the surface of he painting towards the viewer, hanging like a veil between the viewer and the painting’ (P. Moorhouse, ‘A Dialogue with Sensation, The Art of Bridget Riley’, Bridget Riley, exh. cat., London, Tate Britain, 2003, p. 19).

Translating the graphic effect of the black and white works into ‘Riley’s first essay in pure colour’, in Chant 2, Riley sets up a rhythmic chromatic progression: aligning bands of intense red bordered by blue, followed by strips of blue flanked by red, their breadths widening with each progression as they move toward the centre of the canvas. As the lines swell, the resonating bands create a humming sonority of colour. As Riley later suggested, ‘I had to give visual sensation more rein – my black-and-white paintings had been about states of being, states of composure and disturbance, but when I introduced colour in 1967 this began to change. Colour inevitably leads you to the world outside... in the late 1960s I was beginning to find my way with a whole host of sensations to do with colour’ (B. Riley, quoted in Bridget Riley, exh. cat., London, Tate Britain, 2003, p. 19). Bordered by crisply delineated brilliant white spaces, the negative space allows the eye to pick out the incongruities, drawing attention to their boundaries, highlighting the reverse of colours with each line. In the same way that George Seurat’s Pointillist experiments sought to inject pure light into the canvas through the juxtaposition of white alongside pure colour, here Riley employs the negative space as an optic tool to highlight the subtle fluctuations in the sequence, whereby ‘the interaction of different colours is perceived as an impression of light’ (P. Moorhouse, Bridget Riley: Paintings and drawings 1961 – 2004, exh. cat., Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004-2005, p. 19). The resulting colours appear amplified - dazzlingly bright, humming with electricity. Indeed, it was in these early exploratory works that Riley discovered that the larger the negative spaces – in this case the white edges separating the bands – the greater the chromatic impact. ‘In pursuit of the maximum chromatic luminosity, Riley had turned to stripes, which, having very little body (in that they are mostly “edges”), intensify between colours that share their extending borders’ (‘L. Cook, ‘Encore’, in Bridget Riley: Paintings and drawings 1961 – 2004, exh. cat., Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004-2005, p.107).

title

Bridget Riley (B. 1931)

signed

Signed, titled and dated ‘CHANT 2 RILEY 1967’ (on the reverse);

creator

Bridget Riley

keywords

Bridget Riley , 1960s, Paintings, Great Britain, Post War

exhibited

Venice, British Pavillion, La Biennale Internazionale dell’ Arte, Bridget Riley, 1968 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).

Rotterdam, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Bridget Riley, 1969, no. 15 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).

Nuremburg, Kunsthalle Nürnberg in der Norishalle, Aus der Sammlung XI, 1994-1995.

London, Serpentine Gallery, Bridget Riley: Paintings from the 1960s and 70s, 1999, pp. 30, 92 and 113, no. 24 (illustrated in colour, p. 93).

Dusseldorf, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Bridget Riley. Ausgewählte Gemälde/Selected Paintings 1961-1999, 1999, pp. 36, 78 and 143 (illustrated in colour, p. 79).

London, Tate Britain, Bridget Riley, 2003, pp. 17-18, 96 and 234, no. 22 (illustrated in colour, p. 97).

Nuremberg, Neues Museum, Saatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, 2004-2008 (on extended loan).

department

POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART

dimensions

91 x 90.3/4in. (231.5 x 231cm.)

literature

B. Robertson (ed.), Bridget Riley: Paintings and Drawings 1951 – 71, exh. cat., London, Arts Council, 1971, p. 15.

W. Horn, J. Helfrecht and J. Butler-Ludwig (eds.), Bridget Riley: Paintings 1982-1992, exh. cat., Nuremberg, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, 1992-1993, pl. 8 (illustrated in colour, p. 25).

P. Moorhouse, L. Cooke and R. Kudielka, Bridget Riley: Paintings and Drawings 1961-2004, exh. cat., Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004-2005, p. 11 (illustrated in colour, p. 10).

R. Kudielka, Robert Kudielka on Bridget Riley: Essays and Interviews 1972-2003, London 2005, pp. 114, 239 and 260 (illustrated in colour, p. 115).

M. Bracewell and B. Riley, Bridget Riley: Flashback, exh. cat., Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, National Museums, 2009-2010, p. 15 (illustrated in colour, p. 14).

C. Wiggins, M. Bracewell and M. Prather, Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work, exh. cat., London, National Gallery, 2010-2011, p. 68.

E. Schmidt (ed.), Bridget Riley: Malerei/ Painting 1980 – 2012, exh. cat., Munich, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, 2012, pp. 20, 74 -75, 88 and 144, fig. 3 (illustrated in colour, pp. 20 and 87; detail illustrated in colour, p. 70).

M. Findlay, The Value of Art, Money, Power, Beauty, New York 2012, p. 130, no. 36 (illustrated in colour, p. 131).

J. Elderfield, P. Moorhouse and R. Kudielka, Bridget Riley: The Stripe Paintings 1961 – 2012, exh. cat., Berlin, Galerie Max Hetzler, 2013, pp. 35-37 and 43-44 (illustrated in colour, p. 34).

provenance

Rowan Gallery, London.

Private Collection.

Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 19 November 1992, lot 360.

Hoh Collection, Fürth.

Anon. sale, Sotheby’s London, 1 July 2008, lot 5.

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

special_notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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